Narrator: Michael T. Bradley
Length: 9 hours, 53 minutes
Felix is a vampire, a creature of pure evil, a creature so despicable, so vile, so dastardly that there is no one in the world that does not cringe in terror at the mere sight of him. Until he meets the one man who doesn’t. The one man who tells Felix that he’s not scared of him and then tells him to just go away. A man Felix refuses to forget and cannot leave alone. Something about the man draws him like a moth to a flame. He’ll have this man, one way or another!
John is a waiter who happens to be a rather powerful witch. He’s also not terribly perturbed by the vampire stalking him since, as anyone who knows vampires can tell you, as long as you’re not scared of them, they can’t hurt you. They’re also not good at follow through. It will take a day or two at most before the young man with the long teeth gets distracted by someone new or something shiny and John can go back to waiting for the man of his dreams to kill him.
Fortunately for John, Felix isn’t like other vampires. For one thing, he’s more than willing to obsess over John for a week. That’s seven days of sneaking up to his apartment, tapping at the window, then vanishing like a kid playing ding-dong-ditch. Finally, just wanting him to go away, John agrees to give Felix a chance. If the vampire can, for 100 nights, water a rose with a drop of his blood, John will go on a date with him. One single date. He’s pretty sure that will be the end of things, as no vampire can hold on to a thought for too long. Little does he know, Felix has help.
Before I go any further, I’m throwing in a brief trigger warning because there is an abusive marriage in this book. Felix’s sister is married to a man who employs emotional manipulation, emotional abuse, and regularly gives her drugs she eagerly takes to keep her mind and emotions as far away from her husband as she can. It’s part of the story and helps drive the plot along to its conclusion; the author doesn’t try to romanticize it and doesn’t treat it as though it’s either normal or acceptable.
Felix is an idiot and a vampire. To be fair, being cursed with vampirism probably didn’t help. He and his sister, Cat, were cursed to be vampires in the late 1890s and, though he’s been a vampire for over a hundred years, Felix has no idea what he’s doing. He’s not evil, just … thoughtless, self-centered, and selfish. When he wants something, he wants it now. When he doesn’t get what he wants, he tantrums and sulks. He acts like a twelve-year-old with his first crush. He’s sexually interested, but not emotionally capable of understanding how to be an adult (or not wanting to be). He stalks, he threatens, he whines to his sister for help, and when John finally agrees to a date and a quick fuck, Felix is so certain this is forever.
Magic in this world is interesting and the witch who cast the curse on vampires did so with more spite than skill. For example, he said that vampires would be “flighty,” thus giving them the ability to fly as well as making them as distractable as a dog with a squirrel. He uses words like vapid and vain (it seems this witch was as fond of alliteration as I am) and it’s hard to say if those traits were added to Felix after the curse, or were there before his transformation. And thus we have Felix, who can’t be held responsible for his behavior because it’s all part of a curse.
John’s bloodline is also cursed. Each member is destined, after falling in love, to see the face of the person who will murder them. If they don’t fight it, death will come easy. If, however, they do fight — try to remove the curse, try to subvert it or circumvent it — death will be painful. But, by having a relationship with Felix, a creature with no heart, he won’t leave a despairing lover behind. Thanks to his first love, John already knows the face of the man who will kill him, and it isn’t Felix. So, wanting to share what’s left of his life with someone who can understand him, understand his magic, his strangeness, and his obsession with death, John gives in to Felix.
Please take this next section with a giant heaping spoonful of salt. My opinion is only my own, and I will freely admit that this book and I did not gel perfectly. I appreciated the world building and the magic system, and admired the creative way vampires were introduced. However, I didn’t care Felix and John as a couple in the least. There’s such a power disparity in this relationship. While Felix is older than John and, in some respects, equally as powerful if not moreso, he’s also emotionally — and maybe intellectually — unable to be a full partner. He’s not stupid, mind you, but Felix is a nitwit. For me, personally, there were a few times where it felt as though John was a babysitter getting hot and heavy with an adolescent.
This is not to say Felix can’t be charming, because he could be, and not because John abused his position or looked down on him, which he didn’t and … kind of did. But for me, personally, Felix felt too young and not interested enough in being part of a relationship. Love, yes. Sex, god yes. But capable of being in adult relationship? Not so much. Yes, Felix is, with help, able to perform simple tasks that take longer than a week to do, but having to constantly be both the moral compass and the adult in a situation sounds exhausting and John didn’t seem to be, in my opinion, able to take on that kind of relationship.
Again, this is all my personal feelings on the matter. For some people, this relationship — the drifty, sweet, and charming Felix and the cynical, worn to the bone John — is their catnip, and if it is for you, I urge you to give this book a try. Some people will adore Felix and find him funny; this book, at this time, just didn’t hit my funny bone in the right way. It’s a fun, light-hearted romance that is well-written and with an interesting plot. Again, the magic system and the vampires in the world are novel and fun, and I really appreciated the side characters of Lo and Cat. Lo especially, who had some of the best lines in this book:
The road to hell is paved with good intentions … [but] your intentions are so shitty that any road they paved would be full of potholes.
I was given the audio version of this book, narrated by Michael T. Bradley, and I have to say, he really embraced this book. When reading Felix’s chapters, he seems to take inspiration from both Bella Lugosi and the Count from Sesame Street. The first few chapters took a bit of getting used to. He worked hard to make Felix more charming and less childish, and sometimes it worked. His John had a tired, cynical drawl that sometimes had so little emotion (which was all in-character) that he sounded as though he were uninterested even in his own words.
Bradley really nailed the emotions in this book. The choking sobs, the snarls, the wails and whining of Felix, even the cold lash of contempt from Richard. Some narrators just put emphasis on the words; this narrator gave it his heart. However, his female voices — Cat in particular — were hard to distinguish. Sometimes in the scenes between Lo and John I couldn’t tell who was talking. However, without his skill as a narrator, I don’t think I would have been able to tolerate Felix.